We have reached our goal!
Thanks in large part to the "Sam Graff Will Math Your Contributions to the Reel Kickstarter Campaign Campaign (For 24 Hours... Campaign)," we are officially funded! If you've already backed the project, we can't thank you enough. Seriously. You're amazing. If you haven't, though, there's still time. Any extra money will help us just make Reel even better. Not sure what Reel is? Original pitch below.
What exactly is Reel?
Reel is a martial arts short film, vaguely inspired by true events. It tells the story of an actor trying to get footage for his reel from a director who just won’t give it up.
Cue martial arts.
What kind of martial arts?
Do you mean “kinds”? Because this isn’t a film about any one style. Reel will feature fighters who have trained in Kung Fu, Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Jujutsu, and Hapkido.
Well, that sounds pretty cool.
We think so too, which is why we’re on Kickstarter pitching it to you.
Who is “we”?
“We” are Gerard Chamberlain, Alec Kubas-Meyer, and James “JD” Carr, a group of filmmakers and martial artists.
Why should I trust you?
Because, though we're new to Kickstarter, this definitely ain’t our first rodeo. Both Gerard and Alec have worked on numerous short films in all aspects of production. They’ve been a part of everything from a $200 film shot on a DSLR to a $10,000 project shot with a BlackMagic Cinema Camera 4K. They also have extensive martial arts training.
JD has been a martial arts performer for 20 years and has choreographed and performed in numerous live demonstrations. He is a second degree black belt in Tien Shan Pai Kung Fu and is currently working as an instructor at U.S. Martial Arts Academy, Ltd. in Maryland. He will be also be bringing a team of other martial artists who he has worked with for years to the production.
Will those skills translate to the big screen?
Excellent question. The honest answer is “Not without help.” The skills required for live demonstrations need to be tweaked to look right on camera. Fortunately, we’ve got some experience with that as well.
Alec’s most recent project was a martial arts psychodrama called Miranda, which follows a girl’s descent into madness. Over a period of several months, Alec taught his 4’10” lead actress the basics of martial arts and turned her into a fighter who could believably take down a 6’ opponent. But don’t just take our word for it. Here is Miranda’s climactic fight (dialogue and inaction have been sped up for your convenience):
Thanks! We’ll be using Miranda as a starting point. Its fight scenes were built on a relatively unique action philosophy, and many of those ideas will carry over to Reel. We will not be hiding behind quick cuts or close-ups. Long takes and wide shots are the order of the day. Plus, we’ll be stepping up the choreography and intensity while adding even more bodies to the mix with two-on-one fights for our Hero to overcome.
So is it just a bunch of fights?
Of course not. Our Hero’s journey is punctuated by scenes of intense violence, but this is both a comical and emotional journey for him, and he’s joined on the way by a Heroine who’s after the same footage for reasons of her own.
Sounds pretty cool. So where do I come in?
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing crowdfunding platform. We pitch an idea to you, the potential backer, and if you’re interested, you take a look at all of our reward tiers to the right of this text. If a tier looks interesting to you, you make a pledge. If we don’t raise enough to break our $3,500 minimum, then we get nothing and it’s like we never existed. Your card will never be charged, you won’t receive any rewards, and we will become but a faint memory.
It’s kind of unfortunate for us, but it acts as insurance for you. If we reach our goal, Reel will get made, and it will be great. If we don’t make the goal, we’ll still be making a pared down version (we believe in its potential too much to let a little thing like public failure stop us), but you don’t have to be associated with the lesser result.
So right now, you are the most important person in our world. You are the person who can help us make this movie a reality. You do this by pledging to our campaign. Any amount of money you pledge will help us make Reel the absolute best it can be.
In return, we’ve come up with a frankly ridiculous number of rewards for all kinds of people with all types of wealth. You can get everything from thanks in the credits to martial arts lessons to a romantic date with the co-director/star. You’re helping us fulfill a dream, so we want to give you something – tangible or not – that will make you look back on your decision to support Reel and think, “That was the best $X I ever spent on a Baltimore-based martial arts short film.”
But enough about that. You’re probably wondering where your money is going, right?
Even if you’re unfamiliar with independent filmmaking, you probably know that $3,500 isn’t much, especially since Kickstarter will be taking a cut (and those physical rewards don’t magically appear out of thin air). But we wrote Reel with that budget in mind, and if we reach that goal, we will be able to make this film.
With your help, here is what there that $3,500 will go:
Two words: Production value. With no budget, we ask actors to bring their own clothes to set and make do. But we know that as a viewer you can tell when people are just wearing their own clothing and using their own things in their own houses. We may be making a film on a tiny budget, but we don’t want it to look that way.
We’re currently in the middle of negotiating for some equipment, and we have a little bit of our own that we can bring to the production, but much of what we need for a great looking and sounding film we simply can’t afford. Lighting is particularly expensive, and will take up as much of the budget as it can.
Anyone who has been on a set knows how important it is that the cast and crew are well-fed. We’ve been on sets that have been properly catered and others that have had water bottles and some Oreo cookies. We’ve also been on sets where there has been nothing. Nobody wants to work on those latter ones, and we wouldn’t dream of asking people to do so. It is absolutely vital to us that we can make everyone’s time on set comfortable.
What happens if you surpass your goal?
Short answer: Reel gets better.
Long answer: $3,500 is our bare minimum. It’s enough to get us operational and functional, and if we reach our goal we can absolutely make something great from it. Please don't think that just because we're putting all of this in our description that we need some astronomical amount to really make the movie we want. We can do it for $3,500.
At the same time, that will also keep us on a pretty tight leash. We have multiple budgets accounting for totals as high as $12,000, and there are plenty of places where money could go beyond that, just in case. If you all decide to push us past our goal, here is what we could do with it:
There are a few different ways we could go about this, depending on how much we raise. Right now, we’re looking at two options: a better camera or a stabilization rig of some kind. Like most indie productions, our minimum budget means we’ll probably end up shooting on a DSLR. With extra money, we could step up our game and rent a lower-end cinema camera like a Canon C300. Or we could put that money towards a Steadicam or Freefly Movi (both of which are cheaper than you might think). None of these things are necessary to tell our story, but they would serve to make Reel look even better.
Many micro-budget indie films have been killed by low-quality sound, and filmmakers usually have to end up paying for it eventually, whether that’s on-set or during post-production. Unfortunately, professional help is costly and could easily take up half our budget or more. Our sound setup won’t be too complicated (we can’t safely put wireless mics on actors who are getting thrown around), but if we could have someone who really knows their stuff, it would give us one less thing to worry about on set.
Pay our cast and crew
As it stands, nobody involved in this production is going to get paid, other than perhaps the theoretical sound person (an unfortunate reality of micro-budget filmmaking). We’re doing it for love of the craft, and because we believe this project will be awesome. But it would make us happy to be able to compensate all those volunteering their time.
Submission to film festivals
Submitting to film festivals costs money. That can be as little as $50 or as much as $500, and some festivals require high-quality physical copies of entries that greatly increase that cost. We want to show Reel off to the world, and with extra money we could submit it to festivals and possibly even travel to be present at screenings.
Quicker/Higher quality post-production
Post-production takes an exceedingly long time. Even if editing, coloring, and sound mixing Reel was our only job, it would still take us months to really make it right. It’s not our only job. With extra funds, we could either push some of our other obligations to the side for a while to let us focus exclusively on getting Reel ready for the spotlight or hire a professional to do it for us. (Though hiring any particular professional could raise the budget exponentially, so this is a long shot.)
I don’t have any money. Can I still help out?
Yes, you can! If you have any friends who might be interested in our project, let them know about it. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Get the word out there to everyone that a movie is being made and it needs their help, and they can get something cool in return.
And while we can’t give you any tangible reward for helping us promote this campaign, we can offer you the following series of compliments:
- Your beauty is unparalleled. Any future Esquire/People Magazine “Sexiest person alive” articles should be written about you.
- Your intellect and wit put 19th century poets to shame.
- Your humor is so finely tuned that even the drunkest patron at a $5 comedy club couldn’t find a reason to heckle you.
- Your talents are so endless that you should really be making this movie instead of us.
Risks and challenges
Though we’ve worked on projects with higher budgets, bigger casts, and more locations, Reel presents some unique difficulties. Our desire to create intense, realistic fight scenes with long takes and wide shots will push both our actors and crew out of their element. But this sort of creative challenge is the thing we live for.
While Gerard and JD live in Baltimore, Alec lives in New York and will be working remotely/occasionally commuting during the earlier parts of pre-production. (He will be in Baltimore for the entirety of filming.) It's been working out so far, and with technology having advanced so far we don't see why it won't continue to do so, but we wanted to mention it nonetheless.
There are always problems that can delay production: technical malfunctions, illnesses, injuries, etc., and any one of them could affect us. Our current plan is to go into production in October or November, but unforeseen circumstances (such as massive Kickstarter success or failure) could throw a wrench in the works. Post production will obviously take up much more time, but any changes to production plans will be detailed in future updates.
Final thought: Reward fulfillment will be staggered. Most physical rewards will be sent out well before the June, 2015 date mentioned. That is when we expect to have a worthwhile cut ready for your consumption. Most physical rewards should be shipped by the new year, though if it turns out we are successful beyond our wildest dreams, fulfillment of physical rewards could be delayed as well.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)